Sunday 12th June 2011
Edging Closer: Hathersage to Calton Lees – 14.50 miles
Ordnance Survey Explorer OL1 – The Dark Peak
Ordnance Survey Explorer OL24 – The White Peak
Hathersage – Church – Toothill Farm – Mitchell Field – Callow – Higger Tor – Carl Wark – Burbage Bridge – Padley Gorge – Grindleford Station Café – Derwent Valley Heritage Way (DVHW) – Horse Hay Coppice – Spooner Lane – Froggatt - Froggatt Edge – Curbar Edge – Baslow Edge – Bar Lane – Baslow – Chatsworth Estate – Calton Lees
Hathersage: Pubs, Cafes, Shops, Transport, Accommodation
Grindleford: Station Café
Baslow: Pubs, Cafes, Shops, Transport, Accommodation
Calton Lees: Café, Transport
Sunny at first, windy, cold and wet later.
I woke early, packed, had a snack breakfast and was ready to set off by 7.30. On the plus side it was a fine morning, all my kit was dry and I was well rested. On the downside I had a hangover I hadn’t earned, I ached all over and my feet were killing me. Perhaps I wasn’t quite back to full fitness after all.
Anyway, I hobbled off into the warm, morning sunshine looking forward to another cracking day. Despite yesterday’s wet weather, it had been a fantastic day – tough, but very rewarding – and today promised more of the same.
I wandered out of the village, past the church, and followed a narrow lane towards Toothill Farm. Hathersage is surprisingly well hidden from here, but eventually sufficient height is gained to see it nestling in the valley with Eyam Moor beyond.
With rocky bluffs ahead, I followed a track, then a path, past Callow and on to the open moor. A short climb later and I was atop Higger Tor. On sunny Sundays, when the day-trippers have had time to arrive, this place can be heaving. Today, now, I was there alone, and spent a few minutes taking in the views and soaking up the atmosphere of this special place.
A quick scramble down and I was on my way to Carl Wark, a presumed-Iron-Age hill fort whose elevated position and natural craggy defences have been augmented by man-made stone walling. It is hard to imagine that 30 centuries ago these windswept rocks were regarded as a place of safety and refuge. Again, with the place to myself, I had a chance to absorb a little of the history and mystique surrounding this lonely outcrop.
After another short scramble I made my way over the moor to Burbage Bridge and crossed the road into the Longshaw Estate. Keeping the brook on my left, I made my way down towards Padley Gorge, spotting both Dipper and Jay as well as a few early-bird walkers as I did so.
As is my wont, I stopped by Grindleford Station Café for Tea and a Bacon Roll. Well, it was about 9.45am, so the perfect time for breakfast, and it was good to have a few minutes’ sit down.
Suitably refreshed, I set off again – past Padley Chapel and across the fields to join the DVHW. On reaching the riverside path I received a text message and stopped to pull the phone out of my rucksack and compose my reply. A Goosander and chicks cruised by. Ahead of me I could see a ewe standing on the steep riverbank, seemingly agitated. Unusually, it didn’t run off as I approached but continued calling for it’s young. As I glanced into the river I could see ripples spreading from the bank, so I climbed down for a closer look.
A lamb had fallen into the water and was struggling to get out. The river had undercut the bank slightly making it difficult for the poor thing to gain any purchase – it just slipped back. I spoke quietly to it, hoping to reassure it and not frighten it into deeper water. I think it finally understood I was trying to help, but it took two failed attempts before I could grab it with both hands and haul it out. You wouldn’t believe what a waterlogged lamb weighs!
While Minty was being successfully reunited with Mum, it had started to rain. So I popped my waterproof on and carried on – over Grindleford Bridge, through Horse Hay Coppice and along Spooner Lane to Froggatt, from where a steep path led up through the woods to the edge.
I turned south, following the track along Curbar Edge and Baslow Edge. The rain was now steady and heavy, and didn’t look like clearing anytime soon. The cold wind, previously ameliorated by the sunshine, now cut through clothing like a scythe. Despite this, there were several people walking the edges, all with a manic grin plastered to their faces as if they couldn’t quite believe this ludicrous manifestation of an English summer.
Heading down Bar Lane into Baslow I got chatting to a bloke, distracted myself, and missed my turning. Once back on track, I picked up the path into Chatsworth Park and rejoined the DVHW. When planning the route, I had imagined – quite literally – a “walk in the park” at this stage – a gentle stroll through the attractive grounds, past picnicking families and couples out for a romantic walk, with the “Palace of the Peak” as an impressive backdrop.
Instead, I found myself slogging through the rain avoiding enthusiastic horse riders. I was wet through, my rucksack had chafed in a couple of places and my feet were killing me, so I was very happy indeed to reach Calton Lees and the coffee shop rendezvous – Garden Centres have their uses. I had a pot of tea and a bottle of diet Coke, and scoffed two cakes – because I could! – and felt much better afterwards.
Then it was off home to rest and dry out. It’d been a brilliant walk – in fact a brilliant two days – and even though the last hour was a bit uncomfortable, it had done nothing to spoil my weekend at all. I’d seen loads of wildlife and some amazing views, done a bit more Access Land walking, rescued a lamb, got wet through and dry again several times, and clocked up over 30 miles. What a great return for just two days’ investment.